Asia has many cities that can offer excellent conditions to startup founders, including massive growth markets, talent pools, and a low cost of living in many cases. The top ecosystems of the continent include some cities in developed nations, but mostly from highly-populated and fast-growing India and China (with 7 out of the top-10 ecosystems being from these two countries, including the top-4). In this article, we will present the 10 Best Startup Cities in Asia in 2020 (the scope includes cities from Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia). Middle Eastern cities cities appear in the Middle East article.
- Beijing, China
- Shanghai, China
- Bangalore, India
- New Delhi, India
- Tokyo, Japan
- Seoul, South Korea
- Mumbai, India
- Singapore City, Singapore
- Shenzhen, China
- Hong Kong, China
The Best Startup Cities in Asia
To find out which cities are the best places to run a startup, StartupBlink has analyzed startup ecosystems in 1,000 cities and 100 countries to publish its annual Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2020.
In the report, Asia continues to fare well, with 18 countries in our top-100 rankings, including 5 in the top-30 countries club. The most represented sub-region is Southeast Asia with 7 countries in the rankings, although only one city in the regional top-10.
1. Beijing, China
Beijing, as the Chinese capital, is the country and continent’s startup powerhouse. It ranks 6th globally, the city is the home of many high quality startups (more than 30 unicorns), including well-known names like Xiaomi and ByteDance (developers of TikTok). The city has an impressive talent pool, and benefits from its closeness to China’s center of power.
2. Shanghai, China
Shanghai is China’s most populated city, a very important market within the country, and with Beijing one of only two Asian cities in the global Top-10 (ranked 10). The city’s startups overperform in the quality factor of our rankings, with more than 15 unicorns based there, and is home to a large variety of coworking spaces nurture new startups in the city.
3. Bangalore, India
Many consider Bangalore to be India’s version of Silicon Valley. The city is home to one India’s oldest and most prestigious technical universities, the Indian Institute of Science. Ranked 14th globally, the city is home to a plethora of coworking spaces, and has nurtured five Unicorns. It is a particularly strong ecosystem in the Software & Data and Social & Leisure verticals.
4. New Delhi, India
India’s capital city is the 4th highest ranked startup ecosystem in Asia, and ranks just 15th globally, after climbing 3 spots since last year. As all Indian cities, it has a long way to go in the Business score factor, but the ecosystem quantity and quality is very good, having even two Unicorns. The clear top vertical of the city is Software & Data.
5. Tokyo, Japan
Ranked 16th globally (after decreasing two spots since 2019), Tokyo is the only Japanese city in our Top-100 ranking. The city (and country) stands out for the very high Business score it has, significantly better than the rest of the ecosystems in Asia’s Top-5. It’s currently the home of 3 Unicorns, and it has 6 Pantheons (the highest number in this list), including Softbank, Toshiba and Rakuten.
6. Seoul, South Korea
Much like Tokyo, Seoul is a city that scores very high on the Business aspect, explaining its rank of 21st globally. This business climate has made it possible for very large corporate conglomerates to emerge (the Chaebol), and more recently has inspired many entrepreneurs to create their own startups, including 7 current unicorns. Government initiatives that incentivize entrepreneurship, combined with world-class engineers with world famous work ethic have also contributed to the success of the ecosystem.
7. Mumbai, India
The 3rd and last Indian city in Asia’s Top-10, Mumbai is also India’s most populous city and commercial capital. The city is ranked as the world’s 22nd startup ecosystem, benefiting from a high concentration of Angel and VC investment. As is the case with the other highly ranked Indian cities, Mumbai scores highly on the Quantity front, while it has grown some quality startups including 3 current Unicorns.
8. Singapore City, Singapore
Singapore City ranks 26th globally for its startup ecosystem, strongly leveraging its top notch Business climate (highest Business score on this list) and Quality of their startups (2 Unicorns in a relatively small ecosystem). The city also boasts a highly educated talent pool, low taxes and multiple government initiatives, and the dominating vertical is Fintech by far.
9. Shenzhen, China
Globally, Shenzhen ranks as the 33rd best startup ecosystem, and its business scene in general has benefited since the 1980s when it was chosen as the country’s first special economic zone. More recently, it has become the Chinese home of many multinational tech companies, and has developed as a hub for startups in the country, even nurturing global giants such as Tencent (parent company of WeChat) and Huawei.
10. Hong Kong, China
The most “Western” of Asia’s cities, Hong Kong has long been an important financial and business hub, as well as a gateway to China. It’s ranked in our report as the world’s 36th best startup ecosystem, with a very good Quality score (it has one Unicorn). Although the top vertical in the city is Software & Data, it also has a significant concentration of Fintech startups.
The Asian Giants
Of the top 10 startup cities in Asia, only half of them are capital cities. This gives a perspective on the relative importance China and India have on the region, the only 2 countries that have non-capitals on the list. Not surprisingly, these are two of the countries with the fastest-growing economies in the last 3 decades. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that Southeast Asia is a very interesting subregion, with 5 cities in the Top-100 (although only Singapore City made it to the Asian Top-10).
This list was compiled based on the results of Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2020 that ranked 1,000 cities and 100 countries worldwide. If your city was not included in this list yet but you want to find out the current status of your local startup ecosystem, download the Report for free here and start discovering.
If you want to check Best Startup Cities in Europe, check this article.